The Future of Art
Over vooruitgang in de kunst
A challenging and original contribution to the contemporary artistical and philosophical debate
In this stimulating philosophical essay, Maarten Doorman goes against prevailing trends to argue that, in the arts at least, a belief in progress is still relevant and perhaps essential. The radical freedoms of post-modern permissiveness have had a crippling effect. More than ever before, art is in danger of becoming meaningless. The only way a work of art can acquire meaning is through its context, and the concept of progress is ideally suited as the primary criterion for establishing that context.
Doorman admits that it is no longer possible to echo the classical avant-garde and see progress as surpassing and ‘improving’ that which has gone before. Hegel provided the classical formulation of this concept of history, but Doorman traces the ideas behind it further back to the late seventeenth century and La Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes. By the late twentieth century, this way of thinking has led to a climate of artistic stagnation in which exhausted avant-garde movements replace each other at ever-decreasing intervals.
Doorman believes that progress can guide art in a very different way. He sees the history of art as a process of constant accumulation. A painting like Velazquez’s Las Meninas does not disappear when Picasso paints a new version of it. Both canvases comment on each other and this doubling enriches the meaning of each. These increasingly complex interrelationships lead to progress in both the sensibility of the observer and the significance of the works of art. This eloquent essay is the first step to a solution for the indifference that bogs down postmodernism. Enlivened by a host of historical examples, the book is a challenging and original contribution to the contemporary art debate.